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Bears Thu May 08 2014
Bears fans have sat through round one the past two drafts with a list of roughly six to eight players the team might be targeting. Phil Emery, a.k.a. Phil Night Shyamalan (a great moniker 670thescore.com's Laurence Holmes came up with), has added a twist to each of those evenings with the selections of defensive end (now linebacker) Shea McClellin and guard Kyle Long. Each left Bears fans scrambling to look up their names, and Hub Arkush to throw his pen and exclaim (after Long was announced), "Phil Emery just blew that pick." Arkush later apologized, and was almost immediately proven wrong with Long making the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Despite getting new life at a new position, I don't ever see McClellin panning out as even an average player in the league, and the hope is that Emery learned from past mistakes. Sometimes the consensus choice is the best one (Chandler Jones or Whitney Mercilus instead of McClellin in 2012). Nonetheless, Emery's draft prowess after McClellin is trending upward -- hopefully taking the inverse course of Shyamalan's career.
Unlike past years, where the Bears conceivably needed help at a multitude of positions on both sides of the ball, the team should be locked in on a defensive playmaker tonight. Defensive end is the only position the Bears could afford not to draft on defense and there should be plenty of good options when they hit the clock at pick 14 tonight. The only way the Bears would make a shocking selection is if wide receivers Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans are somehow still on the board, but that fact would already be a shock in itself.
If defensive tackle Aaron Donald is there at 14, take him. If he's not, then it comes down to their favorite safety, cornerback, or linebacker. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (FS, Alabama), Calvin Pryor (SS, Louisville), Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma St.), Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech), and C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama) are the likeliest guys in the next grouping (with the safeties being the highest probability if they're still there). Don't be surprised if the Bears take CB Darqueze Dennard from Michigan St., CB Justin Verrett from TCU, or DT Ra'shede Hageman from Minnesota either. It's all about who they have rated highest, and each of these guys is at or near the top of their positional rankings by wide array of scouting services.
With such a focused need, you aren't going to see a stunning pick tonight. No Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana), Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech), or Kyle Van Noy (LB, Brigham Young) at pick 14. With the offense as good as it's ever been (maybe even Super Bowl caliber), the need for an impact defensive player is so glaring that it's almost inconceivable to go off the radar. Even an improvement to a league average defense could make the Bears a dangerous team in January, and the options are plentiful.
The draft is a calculated crapshoot. The Bears have gambled in the first round during both years of the Emery regime by going with a player that wasn't expected to be taken where they were. They've gone one-for-two (though you should really wait three years to start grading picks). Don't expect that second number to jump to three this year. The Bears won't be doing anything crazy tonight.